Thursday, March 15, 2018

BOMA San Francisco Opposes Commercial Rent Tax Measures on June Ballot; Endorses London Breed for Mayor

BOMA San Francisco Endorses Board of Supervisors 
President London Breed's Candidacy for Mayor; 
OPPOSES Propositions C and D that would increase taxes on tenants. 

BOMA San Francisco's leadership has endorsed London Breed for Mayor. We encourage members to learn about her campaign (

Our organization also OPPOSES two commercial rent tax measures - Propositions C and D - on the June ballot in San Francisco. The details of those measures are below.
  • BOMA opposes the proposed measures because they are bad for our tenants who are our city's major employers, and who ultimately pay the tax. 
  • San Francisco is already too expensive and too difficult a place to conduct business without arbitrarily adding to the cost of rent. 
  • Taxing specific industries to fund specific city programs is bad governance. At a time when the City Controller has issued a report showing growing San Francisco budget deficits (reaching in excess of $700 million within five years), elected officials should be having an in-depth and strategic discussion about the City's needs, setting priorities and developing mechanisms to address them ONLY after getting thorough input from the community and all affected parties. 
  • With a $10.2B annual operating budget to work with, the Board of Supervisors should have sufficient resources to manage programs and services without further burdening employers. 
While the various programs and services that are proposed to be funded by each measure may have merit, such "one-off" tax measures targeting commercial rents (with certain exceptions) avoid the much-needed comprehensive budget review that good governance requires. The two commercial rent tax measures on our June ballot abort good-governance and would be very costly to employers, small and large alike.

A Joint Report by the Controller's Office, Mayor's Office, and Board of Supervisors' Budget Analyst in December 2017 shows the City in a deficit starting in FY 18-19 at (88.2) million and in FY 21-22 at (709.3) million. Prudent use of existing resources might help alleviate budget constraints that are projected in the short-term. And now is NOT the time to hike taxes.

Summary of the Two Proposed Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) Measures Targeting Commercial Real Estate 

Current law requires commercial building owners to pay a blend of a payroll tax and .3% on gross receipts from leases to the City and County of San Francisco. That money goes into the City's general fund. There are two new gross receipts tax measures on the June 5, 2018 ballot that would impose additional taxes on commercial rent. These additional taxes would be dedicated to fund specific programs. The two new taxes on the ballot are:

1. 1.7% additional GRT on leases of commercial space (Proposition D)
  • Estimated to raise $70 million annually 
  • Funds low/middle income housing and homeless services 
  • Tax would not apply to gross receipts from leases that have the following uses: PDR, retail and services, entertainment, arts and recreation, non-profit and small businesses 
  • Requires 67% voter approval to pass 

2. 3.5% additional GRT on leases of commercial space; 1% on warehouse space  (Proposition C)
  • Estimated to raise $146 million annually 
  • 85% funds early child care and education, 15% is for general use 
  • Tax would not apply to gross receipts from leases that have the following uses: industrial, arts, or non-formula retail, non-profit and small businesses 
  • Requires 50% + 1 voter approval to pass 


  1. John, thank you for capturing the essential facts on these two ballot initiatives. While worthy causes, this form of "back door" budgeting is counterproductive. It's also political pandering. There is a much better way of addressing these issues, this is not the way of doing it.